Since Obi-Wan Kenobi started streaming on Disney+, it has been explained by Lucasfilm that the six-part serial is based on the same storyline intended some years ago for a feature film. The film never eventuated, of course, but the re-use of the story goes some way to explain the padded feel that has come to dominate the second half of the series. This penultimate episode sees Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) and young Princess Leia ((Vivien Lyra Blair) holed up with members of the Path as Vader presses the Imperial might down on them via a ground invasion. If Part 4 was a thinly veiled re-run of the original Star Wars, then Part 5 is essentially a retread of The Empire Strikes Back’s Hoth-set opening act: rebels attempting to hold the Stormtroopers back until they can somehow make their escape.
Thankfully there is a lot more going on here than in the previous episode. Well-placed flashbacks reveal a younger Obi-Wan training a pre-Revenge of the Sith Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen). It is smart writing to do see, even if both actors are visibly much older than they should be, because it manages to do three things at once: cement the Kenobi-versus-Vader relationship that has dominated the series, further smooth out the links between prequel and original trilogies, and actually feed productively into other character arcs going on at the same time.
It is a rewarding episode for Reva (Moses Ingram), not only opening up her back story but complicating her relationship with both Obi-Wan and Vader. There is nothing here that is unexpected or surprising, but it is satisfying to see hinted-at suspicions be confirmed as the series nears its climax. There is a great set-up for the finale as well, which makes me hope it is all going to tie together in the end. Despite faults, this has been a wonderful exercise in nostalgia – and has largely managed to sidestep some of the regular pitfalls of telling a prequel. It feels more of a sequel to Revenge of the Sith than anything else.